I mourn the death of Andrew Breitbart. I didn’t know the guy personally, aside from the exchange of a few mutual admiration emails, so I have no further insights into the man or his personality beyond what his many friends and colleagues have already written.
But my mourning is mixed with a sense of frustration. Great men like Andrew Breitbart are not great simply because of their own personal actions and achievements; they’re great because they show us the way to be just like them.
A good father goes fishing and feeds his sons every night. A great father teaches his sons how to fish so they can feed themselves.
A good muckraking investigative journo-activist breaks shocking stories that change the political landscape. A great muckraking investigative journo-activist — like Andrew Breitbart — shows us that anybody can do what he does.
Because that’s the secret of Andrew Breitbart’s career: He rose to the top despite not possessing any unique skills.
He wasn’t a great writer. Not bad; just serviceable. He didn’t have a PhD. He personally wasn’t very handy with a camera. (Though he certainly knew what to do with newsworthy photos or footage once he got his hands on them.) He wasn’t an economic theorist. He wasn’t a beacon of moral purity. He wasn’t a deep philosopher. He wasn’t even a professional journalist.
But whatever he did, he did with gusto. And not just run-of-the-mill gusto: extreme gusto.
When he got the ball, he never fumbled. He sent would-be tacklers flying. And even if his team wasn’t on offense, he’d snatch the ball anyway and score a backfield touchdown before the other guys even knew what happened.
One thing we must learn from Andrew’s life: If Breitbart could do it, anyone could do it. We no longer have any excuse. America’s bloggers and citizen-journalists and new-media mavens need to get off our collective asses and make news happen.